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Southwest USA 2001

(Page 5 of 6)


Mesa Verde National Park


Located in the extreme southwest corner of Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is a treasure trove of cliff dwelling ruins.

Here is one of the valleys along which the dwelling were constructed.


This is one of the better preserved of the cliff dwellings, known as Cliff Palace.

It has largely been left alone the way it was discovered, although some reconstruction has been done, and much rubble has been cleared away. It is now National Park policy to leave sites such as this undisturbed.



This is Square Tower House ruin, named for the four-story tower in the center.

No one today knows why these dwellings were built in such inaccessible locations, although speculation abounds.


Spruce Tree House ruin.

Spruce Tree House up close. It has been reconstructed quite a bit.

The people who occupied these cliff dwelling suddenly departed the whole region around about the year 1300-1400, for unknown reasons.



There are also many ruins on top of the cliffs. 

Again, this adds to the mystery.  Why are there dwellings on top as well of the cliffs, as well as being hidden part way up the cliffs within canyons?

The round structures are kivas, used for religious ceremonial purposes, as well as day-to-day activities such as grinding grains.


A view from the top of the mesas.
Wetherill Mesa. This part of the park experienced a major forest fire last year (2000), started by lightning.

If you look carefully you will see a ruin in the right side of the overhang, in the center of the picture.


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